The interaction between climate change and biological invasions is complex. Several studies have shown that climate change may lead to increased invasion, however, the opposite, in which invasions are mitigated by changing climates, is also plausible although harder to observe.
This study attacks the problem by a mechanistic case study of establishment risk for two invasive plants, Alliaria petiolata and Berberis thunbergii, in the northeastern United States compared with native ecological analog species.
By transplanting the invasive species into various locations across the region and thus environmental gradients, the authors created demographic models based on vitality in the given environment, and validated these by comparing the output with traditional ecological niche models based on GBIF-mediated occurrences.
For midcentury climate projections, the models predict increased suitability for B. thunbergii across the region. Surprisingly, however, future warming is likely to render the region unsuitable for A. petiolata. The study confirms how climate change may alter invasion patterns, but highlights that mechanistic studies are required to understand drivers and forecast potential invasions in novel environments.